Marianne Cohn began volunteering for National Jewish Health as a teenager, and her service to the institution has endured for 70 years, with many groundbreaking accomplishments along the way.
During World War II, she worked as a volunteer at National Jewish Hospital with children who had tuberculosis.
“I remember my parents were worried that I would catch tuberculosis from the children,” Marianne said. “Doctors at National Jewish had discovered that children were not contagious, and there was no need to worry.”
Big Ideas, Big Accomplishments
By 1949, Marianne was married, and her husband, Ben Miller, was a member of the Board of Directors of National Jewish Health. Marianne was invited to become a member of the Women’s Board, which was comprised of many of the Directors’ wives. They focused their efforts on fundraising for the institution. At that time, the hospital was completely reliant on fundraising since it did not begin charging patients until 1969.
Marianne had an idea to increase fundraising by raising the ticket price for an upcoming charity concert featuring Benny Goodman, “a big act at the time.”
“We charged $25 a ticket,” Marianne said. “We had never charged that much before. The concert was sold out. It was a big success.”
She also played a role in expanding the hospital’s leadership in the community by inviting Colorado’s First Lady Ann Love to be the first non-Jewish woman on the Women’s Board. Marianne’s actions set an example for the Board of Directors, which followed suit by inviting the first non-Jewish man to join the Board a few years later.
“I thought it was a very important thing to do,” Marianne said. The impact of her efforts is evident today – the National Jewish Health Board of Directors represents a cross-section of male and female leaders from a variety of businesses and organizations.
In 1971, she made history by becoming the first woman to be appointed to the Board of Directors. Ann Love became the second woman on the Board.
As part of Marianne’s responsibilities, she was on the Board’s Building Committee, which oversaw the construction of the Goodman Building.
“My sister-in-law was paraplegic and asked if it would be handicap accessible, which wasn’t required at the time.”
When Marianne learned that the building wasn’t going to be accessible, she took action.
“I went to my first committee meeting with a list of things that needed to be done – widen the doorways, add railings, lower the light switches, …,” she said. “Since the steel beams were the only thing that had been completed, the corrections could be made. The architect was so excited to build the first such hospital building in Denver.”
After the death of her first husband in 1972, Marianne continued to serve on the board until 1976, when she married Dr. Isidore Cohn Jr., a prominent surgeon from Louisiana.
“I remember telling him that I was on the board of a small hospital in Denver, and that he had probably never heard of it,” Marianne said. “I was surprised when he said, ‘Oh, I’ve been contributing to that hospital for years. It’s a wonderful place.’”
Continued Service and Support
When Marianne moved to New Orleans, she continued to be involved with the hospital as a National Trustee. The Council of National Trustees is made up of volunteers from across the country, who help to organize events, raise funds and spread the word about our institution in their own communities.
She and other Trustees in Louisiana hosted numerous fundraising dinners and events over the years.
Marianne and her husband have been donors to the institution for decades. She recently set up a charitable gift annuity (CGA) with National Jewish Health.
“I was on the board when we started the gift annuity program,” she said. “I always thought it was a good way to raise money because it guarantees the donor and hospital financial health.”
A CGA through National Jewish Health provides fixed income for life, while also supporting the mission of the hospital. There are tax benefits to CGAs as well. The initial gift is partially income tax-deductible and the CGA payments are partially income tax-free.
After all these years, Marianne remains committed to National Jewish Health.
“I loved working at the hospital and all of the brilliant minds there,” she said. “New Orleanians continue to call me to ask about National Jewish Health. I am glad that people still associate me with the institution.”
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